The upmarket movie theaters of the 1920s were referred to as movie palaces due to the high standard of construction and fittings. A typical example of these movie palaces was the Capitol Theatre of Niagra Falls which is described below. You can read about plans to restore the Capitol Theatre here
CAPITOL THEATRE, NIAGARA FALLS, MEETS DEMAND FOR FAMILY THEATRE
NIAGARA FALLS’ new Capitol theatre has been opened to the public. Completed at a cost of over $300,000, in arrangement of the interior and richness of design this beautiful community house on Niagara street, near Thirteenth, is one of the most attractive in western New York. The Capitol, which is owned by the Niagara Theatre corporation, with Thomas De Santis, president and treasurer and Peter Paonessa, vice president and general manager, has a seating capacity of 1,400.
The promoters have endeavored to meet the demand for a family theatre more convenient to the thickly populated residential districts removed from the down-town business section, and have succeeded in filling that requirement at no sacrifice of richness and comfort. The policy is motion pictures and two acts of vaudeville.
The house conforms with the latest accepted standards of theatre construction. Flanking the entrance to the lobby at either side are accommodations for three modern and up-to-date stores, and on the second floor facilities have been provided for twelve offices.
The elaborate richness of the interior decorative scheme is apparent, immediately upon entering the lobby, where the decorators have created an atmosphere of welcome in old ivory and gold enlivened with soft tones of rose and blue.
In the lobby are five tear-drop crystal chandeliers, with one central fixture providing both direct and indirect lighting. The lobby side walls are mottled in burnt orange and panelled at the base in specially quarried Italian marbles and quartz. The striking feature of the auditorium is the richness of the central dome and the artistic beauty of the three large paintings visible from any part of the house.
The general scheme of the auditorium appears to be a modern adaptation of the Corinthian style; modern in that the classic simplicity is offset by the richness of the Georgian period. Wide, ceiling-high panels on the sidewalls are done in tapestry effect, with old rose and gold the predominating note. This is reflected in the old rose velvet hangings and the central motif of the design which completely encircles the ceiling and the upper part of the side walls.
The proscenium arch is of classical design, graced at its top by a row of formalized acanthus leaves. It is highlighted in antique gold, rose and blue, and blends with the lavish use of gold leaf which characterizes decorations of the Georgian period. The seats are of the latest design. The capacity of the lower floor has been limited to 1000 by the use of oversize chairs but their pneumatic cushions and greater size gives greater comfort for the patron. Together with the luxurious loges at the front of the upper section, the balcony provides accommodations for 400 and is marked by unusually clear vision of the stage.
The heating of the auditorium is accomplished by the vacuum system by which the steam is most effective when circulated at the low pressure of from eight ounces to one pound. Concealed by ornamental grilles, a radiation surface of 4700 feet efficiently warms the interior. A system of electric ventilators completely changes the air it is claimed, of the interior every ten minutes.
The stage is of unusually generous proportions and is one of the largest available. for vaudeville in Niagara Falls. It is 78 feet wide, 25 feet deep and 50 feet high, provided with every facility for the presentation of the most elaborate productions. The switchboard controls an elaborate electric system which provides all the varying degrees of four different color effects in the auditorium, and three on the stage.
The front curtain of the stage is an innovation in Niagara Falls. Weighing over 2,000 pounds, it is a combination front drop and asbestos in which each thread has a score of strands of brass. A special safety feature is the automatic device which drops the curtain immediately in ease of fire. This curtain alone represents an investment of approximately $1,500.
The booth equipment is thoroughly up-to-date. It includes two Simplex machines, with Peerless reflector arc lamps.; a Hertner generator, Superlite lenses, spotlights, etc. The equipment was installed by the Becker Theatre Supply Company of Buffalo.
Fire hazards have been eliminated by the care exercised in planning the building, but should. it be necessary to empty the building quickly, sixteen exits are instantly available. Arthur H. Fleury is conductor of the orchestra. An organ will be installed at a later date.
Source: Motion Picture News. March 20, 1926